Taylor’s College Students Kicks Off ‘Project Indigenous’ To Support Orang Asli Communities

MADU committees sharing a group moment with the children from Pos Slim communities

Taylor’s College’s Sri Hartamas Make A Difference United (MADU) community service learning programme recently shared the gift of community service with the Orang Asli community in Pos Slim, Perak, in their latest project, which was organised in partnership with the Malaysian Relief Agency.

Called ‘Project Indigenous’, the initiative involved a group of 17 students and two teachers from Taylor’s College Sri Hartamas. Of the students, six were members of the organising committee and the rest were volunteers. They comprised eight students from the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, two from the Cambridge A Levels programme and seven from the South Australian Matriculation programme.

The students and teachers underwent a 3-days 2-nights immersion camp, where they worked with adults and children in the village, to acquire a greater understanding and foster empathy for the villagers’ unique needs. The pilot camp kick-started an initiative to roll out long term sustainable development projects with the villagers. It is hoped that with deeper understanding of the villagers’ needs, the MADU participants will be better able to secure support from corporate entities in order to channel contributions to the Orang Asli community 3 to 5 times a year. Pos Slim is located about 20km from Simpang Pulai, at the fringe of the jungle and beside the highway,

The long term Project Indigenous CSR initiative aims to help more Orang Asli students succeed in school and access a broader range of job opportunities, in order for families to achieve better economic status and standards of living. The students hope to help the community achieve this within 5 years.

MADU programme, which began in 2009, is one of the college’s many efforts to empower their students to become leaders and productive members of society, who contribute towards improving the community. By participating in the project, the students had the opportunity to enhance their learning, leadership and life skills.

“We’re very proud of the way the students have embraced the aim of making a difference in the lives of these communities living in remote areas. At Taylor’s College, we’re not just about academic excellence. Through programmes such as MADU, we encourage thoughtful open-mindedness as well as confidence, to create well-rounded individuals that will become productive members of the community. We also nurture their leadership skills and empower their potential to initiate efforts to benefit society, especially communities in need,” said Anandakumaresh Ratnasingam, Campus Director of Taylor’s College Sri Hartamas.

Working alongside their teachers, the students integrated Taylor’s College’s 5Cs (collaboration, creative thinking and problem solving, communication, creativity and innovation and cultural adaptation) in the immersion programme. The students honed their collaboration, communication and cultural adaptation skills through activities such as community mapping, familiarising themselves with daily routines, facilitating learning sessions with the children and learning to prioritise the identified development needs.

The students explored the Orang Asli culture by engaging with the residents through games, art, a campfire and other activities. They were also involved in teaching educational games to the local children to broaden their communications skills. Additionally, the students cooked and organised a campfire feast for the community. These activities had the further benefit of improving understanding and strengthening the relationship between the students and their foster community.

Sivanessha Kalithasan, the project leader for this project shared, “It does mean a lot to us to make a difference in disadvantaged communities and this is was definitely an eye opener for us, especially in terms of education. We believe that education can improve standards of living and overcome disadvantaged origins. However, understanding that many children do not enjoy the classroom, we wanted to inject the element of fun into our sessions to encourage the children to be passionate about learning. It was sometimes challenging for the volunteers, but in the end, when we see the children enjoying the lessons and the adults supporting our goal, it is deeply satisfying because we know we’ve done something positive and impactful for the community. This motivates us to work even harder to plan the next steps in this long term project.”

Almost 30 Orang Asli children benefitted from the educational activities while about 150 Orang Asli adults enjoyed the feast prepared by the students.

Taylor’s College imparts the 3Ls (Learning, Leadership and Life Skills) and hones the 5Cs (collaboration, creative thinking and problem solving, communication, creativity and innovation and cultural adaptation) in all its students, to ensure they are ready to face the competition at the world’s top universities and in the workplace, besides overcoming life challenges.